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Falcons prospect scouting report: DL Rashan Gary, Michigan

The Atlanta Falcons have several avenues to attack the defensive line. Here is one option they may explore.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Maryland Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The draft approach for the Atlanta Falcons is showing signs of clarity after the opening of free agency. Here is one of the better prospect in the entire draft that can help improve their defensive line.

Thanks to a fairly busy initial period of 2019 free agency in which they addressed the offensive side of the ball, it became quite lucid that the Falcons will focus on the defense in this year’s draft. I think at this point, we can expect the Falcons to some early additions on the defensive front. I recently constructed a report on an elite prospect that can be a great inclusion to the Falcons defense. Today, I will turn the attention to another top talent that can open things up for the Falcons on defense.

Rashan Gary Scouting Report

Height: 6’4

Weight: 277 lbs

Career stats: 119 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks

Games watched: 2017 vs. Florida, 2017 vs. Wisconsin, 2017 vs. Penn State, 2018 vs. Ohio State, 2018 vs. Notre Dame, 2018 vs. Rutgers

Strengths: Athleticism and plenty of it. The reason why many direct their attention to his athleticism is mainly due to how his excellent NFL size blends well with it.

At the NFL Combine this year, Gary surprised some by weighing in at 277 pounds, which was roughly 10-15 pounds lighter than his supposed playing weight while at Michigan. Gary has an explosive first step as a lineman and it showed in his 7.26 three-cone drill and during his 4.58 40-yard dash and 1.63 10-yard split on his 40-time at the Combine. As a rusher at times with Michigan, Gary showed the ability to effectively bull rush opponents thanks to his natural strength and 34 inch arms. He looked more fluid in his change-of-direction at the Combine than he did on tape and that can be chalked up to the notable weight loss and the existing circumstance of performing drills in shirts and shorts.

When engaging with blockers, Gary shows the ability to disengage notably and not give up ground due having proper leverage. Gary is pretty refined as a tackler and wrapping up has been a consistent calling card of his. Gary displays contagious effort against plays going away from him and when he chases down plays on the backside. Versatility is also a notch on Gary’s belt as he played at the 3-Tech, 5-Tech, and 9-Tech spots on the defensive line throughout his entire career.

Weaknesses: For those who rely considerably on production/numbers, Gary underwhelms a bit in that department. In three seasons (34 games), Gary only produced 9.5 sacks. Granted, that partially is due to his insertion in multiple spots along the defensive line, but it is still concerning that his freakish ability only produced little results.

As a pass rusher around the edge, Gary shows little ability to properly bend and shows plenty of stiffness in his hips. All that boils down to overall technique, which is a question mark for him as an edge rusher at the moment. Gary is able to set the edge in run defense thanks to his natural power but he must fix coming out of his stance with his pad level too high at times. Gary is consistently viewed as a prospect that showed elite flashes but not quite enough.

Conclusion: Your classic boom or bust prospect. No need to beat around the bush with my evaluation on him. Gary entered college football prior to the 2016 season as the #1 overall player out of high school. When Gary was on top of his game, he was one of the best defenders in all of college football.

But that’s where it gets really interesting when discussing Gary and his talent level. In the Michigan defensive scheme, Gary was placed just about everywhere on the defensive line, which resulted in the prospect not having a true position on the line in the eyes of scouts and coaches.

After careful observation, I believe Gary is best with a few more pounds on his frame and inside as a 3-Technique defensive tackle. However, that does not mean that if the Falcons were to select him, they would not be able to polish him well enough to be an athletic strong-side defensive end who can rush on the interior on passing downs.

But right now, he has less of a learning curve if placed on the interior than he would on the edge. Selecting Gary would be a roll of the dice with hopes that those flashes he showed at Michigan would conclude in the Falcons having themselves a future All-Pro. With Gary, there is plenty of intrigue, plenty of upside, and plenty of questions to be answered.